The Lady of Shallot


Here is the Lady herself, as depicted by John William Waterhouse.

The idea to make a Lady of Shallot dress hit me this morning. I’m still not sure where it came from, but there it was! I had to drop what I was doing and search for the poem. Before long I’d found it, and sat down to read eagerly. After all, she must have been something magnificent to have become famous!

But after reading the poem my enthusiasm had cooled. All she did was sing, weave, and wait for a mysterious curse to fall upon her. When it did come (apparently Sir Lancelot had something to do with it, because she looked at him and said “Well, here it comes!”, only in a more sophisticated and nineteenth-century-rhythmic-imitation-of-medieval-speech way) she left her room, went and laid down in a boat, set herself free along the river, and sang until she died.
I just didn’t get it. Of course, this is the twenty-first century, so my way of thinking about life is, quite probably, not at all the way Tennyson thought. And very likely if I studied Tennyson and romantic thought, I would understand it. All the same, her death struck me as tragically unnecessary. Why did she just give up like that? I suppose Tennyson and the Romantics were going for the tragic bit…maybe the unnecessary was part of making it tragic?

The long and short of it is, no Lady of Shallot dress!

But a medieval princess dress would be wonderful (I’ve heard tell of a beautiful and good empress, a real one, who lived in the 1100s). And my excursion into Tennyson made me think of poetry more broadly. There are a lot of great poems out there, plenty to inspire a whole line. And there’s lots of wonderful art, too (anybody interested in a Mona Lisa dress?)

Until the next idea hits,



3 thoughts on “The Lady of Shallot

  1. I am part of a small group of musicians that play at our local Renaissance Faire every summer, so I am very interested in historical clothing. There are a great variety of clothing styles in the Renaissance era to choose from. Mona Lisa is actually part of the Italian Renaissance, but her clothing style and the story behind her portrait would indicate that she is either pregnant, or had just given birth. However, a little research on Italian Renaissance would show some lovely gowns that would translate easily into doll clothes the size of the American Girl dolls.

  2. Oh! I would love a Renaissance dress! I’m trying to plan a Renaissance Faire for my dolls but I only have one pattern and I’d like more variety in the costumes. Please make one? If it is not too expensive I will buy it.

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